Of Mice and Men

While I recently bought a new mouse for my MacBook and was quite pleased with it I felt something was missing. I really wanted a wireless mouse solution. I often grab my MacBook and head upstairs to show something cool to my wife and kids (they think I'm a Mac Fanboy now) or grab it for a meeting with someone. Unplugging the mouse from the USB port is not really that big of a deal but I've got Bluetooth capabilities on this machine - why not use them?

My requirements were quite simple: a Bluetooth mouse that would work with Mac and have at least 5 buttons and a scroll wheel. Why 5? Well, 1 is for Left Click, 2 is for Right, 3 is for navigating to links in a new tab, 4 is to go Back in the browser and 5 is to go forward. If you haven't used a setup like that you are missing out; it's wonderful.

There are wireless solutions from all of the vendors that include a dongle you plug into your USB port but that's silly - I already have a device to handle that and I want the USB ports free for other things. That and an appendage on such a sleek machine as the MacBook is just wrong.

I checked out the Mighty Mouse, which technically has 4 buttons, though that's a mouse that takes getting used to. I spent a lot of time at the store playing with a wired version and it was... hard for me. I tend to rest my hand on the mouse and found that I was clicking things all the time by accident. Right clicking was a hit or miss for me too. I may still get one but right now it's way back in the pack.

Logitech is my mouse vendor of choice. They make wonderful products that last forever, have great drivers and fit my hand perfectly. They even have a Bluetooth mouse! Great! One catch - it's a 3 button mouse! Why? That makes no sense! If I can't have a back button on my mouse it's useless to me. I could lose forward but Back is just indispensable.
That left one mouse standing for me: The Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. It was bluetooth, had 4 buttons (ok, as long as I can have my Back button) and has the little Mac Finder logo right there on the box. I pulled it out, fired it up and sure enough it connected to my MacBook easily. 

Now for my first Rant:

My hands did not shrink when I moved to a laptop!

What is up with vendors that think since you have a "laptop mouse" that you must have a little tiny workspace with little tiny hands working little tiny keyboards. At first I thought "Ah, that's a cute little mouse". Then I started to use it and I felt like I was trying to move a peanut around on my desk. After just a few minutes of use my hands started to curl up into a ball so that I could actually grasp the little thing.

Hey mouse manufacturers, here's a tip: every laptop manufactured in the last 10 years has at least one and often two pointing devices built right into them. If I'm short on space, I use the wonderful trackpad on my machine. If I'm on a plane trying to use my laptop I guarantee you that no matter how small you make that mouse it ain't fitting on my seat tray. Yeah, ok, I can fit it there if you make it small enough but I won't have enough space to actually use it.


Pushing aside the size issue of the Microsoft Mouse for just a moment, I noticed that mouse button 4 does not work with the browser.  Hmmm. There was no software in the package, there was nothing to download off the Microsoft site that matched up with that mouse; I couldn't configure the 4 button to go back!

I did some research and found that the only people that have gotten button 4 to work on that mouse were people that downloaded and purchased SteerMouse, a program for $20 that customizes your mouse buttons and works with this mouse. Steermouse looks fine and worked with the mouse but I couldn't justify $20 on top of the $50 I just paid to make a mouse button work that is supposed to right out of the box. Look at the MS site from the link above - it says "Use the back button to easily navigate folders and Web Pages..."

In a fit I decided I'd do something I never do. Call Microsoft. While I got right through I spent a decent amount of time on the phone going through a battery of questions that made me feel like I was opening a new credit card, not asking about a product feature that didn't work as advertised.

Tom, a nice guy that didn't know the product too well had me do all the usual things. Reboot the machine. Turn the mouse on and off. Can you try it on another machine? Dude, I know this doesn't work, I need YOU to find out why. Microsoft needs to get some drivers that actually work; their Intellimouse for Mac is outdated and needs updating. Yesterday Tom was going to try to round up a Bluetooth enabled Mac and the 5000 mouse and see if it worked for him, then get back to me.

For now I'm going back to my wired Logitech mouse.


Vito Traino said...

Man that is a sad.

How about this:

It's bluetooth, fullsize (so they say), 5 button, Mac compatible, comes in whatever color matches your macbook (how convenient), comes with a USB cable that charges the AA batteries, its a laser mouse so you can use it on anything.

I honestly think its perfect for you. Translation: I would buy one if I was in your position.

The only drawback is the fact that it is $60, but considering everything else you've gone through, and all the features this puppy has, its well worth the extra 10 bucks.

Let me know what you decide, I'm interested in the outcome of this story.

David Alison said...

I'm actually going to just hold out for the Logitech mouse - hopefully it will come out soon.

I took back the MS mouse - the guy from Microsoft never bothered to call me back to tell me it doesn't work. I put an older MX510 Logitech in place and it's amazing - having one of the dedicated buttons activate Spaces is HUGE.

Vito Traino said...

Oh okay. Thats a great mouse! I use that mouse on my iMac, though I use the special button for Expose.

I'd like your opinion and feedback on this :)

When you have the time, of course.

Tom said...

Sadly, Logitech tends to bundle their Bluetooth mice only with keyboard combo kits. I have an MX1000 Bluetooth mouse for my Mac, that I had to buy alongside a Dinovo keyboard. I found use for the keyboard on my Mac Mini attached to the TV, but it was frustrating.

I definitely share your dissatisfaction with the tiny "laptop" mice. Vendors just need to realize you can ship a standard bluetooth mouse and a cheep $2 adaptor for those still using laptops without Bluetooth and not make them "laptop" specific.

David Alison said...

@Tom: Yeah, someone pointed that out to me today. Too bad, because all I really want is that Logitech Bluetooth mouse. Almost worth eating the cost of the keyboard though.

spencer harris said...

have you considered a mighty mouse ( in conjunction with mouse gestures?

David Alison said...

@spencer: I have. Even had the box in my hand for a new wireless mighty mouse but after sitting at the local Best Buy and playing with it for about 20 minutes I never got comfortable with it. I have a tendency to rest the palm of my hand on the mouse (which is why I don't care for the tiny mice), and with the Mighty Mouse I kept accidentally clicking it. I'm sure I could set sensitivity levels but I just felt very uncomfortable using it.

Sprocketeer said...

The key to successfully using right-click on the Mighty Mouse is to understand how it works. The Mighty Mouse has two foil antennae inside the shell that detect whether the index and middle fingers are resting atop the mouse. Index finger only, or both fingers, will cause a click to be interpreted as a left-click. Middle finger only causes a click to be interpreted as a right-click. That is, the index finger must be slightly above the mouse, not resting on it, for a right click to occur.

While the Mighty Mouse is decent, what I really want is for Logitech to remove their crania from their colons long enough to figure out they should market a Bluetooth trackball. Sheesh.

Scott said...

I don't know if anyone will see this since the last comment was from 3-16-08 but I'll try it anyway. I love the mighty mouse but couldn't figure a way to make one of the buttons the 'Back' button (unless they've changed it recently). So what worked for me was to right click on the page and then select the 'Back' menu item which is first on the list. Not quite as fast as a button but much quicker than moving the mouse up to the back arrow button on the page

The main reason I love the mighty mouse is the scroll wheel; very fast!